How to protect your Pinterest account. Repetitive pinning behavior recommended by some experts could be spammy and might get your account blocked. Here's how to avoid Pinterest jail.
IMPORTANT: Pinterest announced some big changes to its algorithm in 2020. Until I'm able to update this page, I would suggest you read Tailwind's Pinterest Best Practices FAQ.
Tailwind's guide was compiled with the information that came out of a Q&A session with a representative from Pinterest and reflects the newest information about what works for businesses on Pinterest.
And, as always, you can go directly to the source and check out Pinterest's community guidelines.
Your Pinterest account is a precious business asset. If you use the platform to promote your business online, you need to protect your account. You don't want to be flagged for spam and suspended.
You need to stay out of Pinterest jail.
When I realized my Pinterest marketing deserved an update, I went looking for new strategies. In the end, I implemented a Pinterest marketing plan which has increased traffic from Pinterest to my site from by 140%.
In my research, I also came across some popular, but more aggressive strategies that made me nervous. They are tempting and presented in a compelling way. But they raised a lot of red flags in my mind.
I have decided I'm not willing to risk my Pinterest account to try more aggressive marketing tactics.
Here's why these strategies make me nervous.
Before I dive into this discussion, let me say, I do not have the inside track at Pinterest.
I don't have a BFF who works there and shares company secrets with me. If you do work at Pinterest, and you want to be my friend, give me a call!
I've decided which Pinterest strategies I'm confident using, and which strategies are too risky for my comfort level based on:
I won't pretend to know everything about Pinterest, but I can share my best recommendations to use Pinterest for business based on experience.
Here's the stuff that makes me nervous, along with an explanation of why I don't use these strategies even if they appear to work in the moment.
If you've spent much time researching Pinterest marketing, you'll know the way I use Pinterest for business marketing isn't the most aggressive approach out there.
For example, some people save the same popular pins every single day, cycling through a few different Pinterest boards. They believe it's not considered spammy as long as you don't save the same pin more than once per day.
It's a popular approach to Pinterest marketing.
I see people who I respect as smart online business owners using this strategy. However, I worry that repetitively saving the same popular pins runs too close to creating a "disruptive experience" that Pinterest could consider spammy.
If it's not a problem today, I'm concerned it could become a problem tomorrow, or some time soon.
Maybe those people who use more aggressive Pinterest marketing strategies are right. Maybe I'm wrong. But I don't want to risk my Pinterest account, along with part of my business to find out.
I'm a big believer in going straight to the source for answers to important questions. So let's see what Pinterest says about aggressive pinning.
The guidelines in Pinterest's Content Tips say:
Clearly, repetitive saving can get your Pinterest account flagged for spammy behavior. But what, exactly, counts as repetitive saving?
Is saving once a day okay as long as the pins go to different boards?
A few times per week?
Once a week?
Unfortunately, we can't know for sure because Pinterest doesn't tell us. You won't find specific numbers coming directly from Pinterest. They don't say exactly how quickly you can repin the same pin without being flagged for spammy behavior.
Pinterest doesn't publish that kind of information.
It's not specified in their Community Guidelines, which describe acceptable use policies.
And it's not specified in their Rate Limit Blocks information, which outlines issues related to doing things too quickly or too frequently on Pinterest.
If someone tells you with absolute certainty that you can resave the same pin once a day, and that's definitely not spammy behavior, they aren't telling you the truth.
They can't possibly know.
They may think they know. Somewhere along the line they might have taken in this idea as "fact" without examining the truth of it. I'm not accusing anyone of lying on purpose.
But Pinterest tells us no such thing. Unless they do have a BFF who works at Pinterest and feeds them top secret company information, they just don't know.
So what if you do decide to use more aggressive Pinterest marketing techniques? You want to grow your business quickly, and you figure you're willing to risk Pinterest jail. What's the worst that could happen?
I hear people in blogger communities complain about suspended Pinterest accounts. They insist they weren't spamming. I wonder if that's always true given the kind of aggressive Pinterest marketing advice that's floating around out there.
Based on advice they've read, they probably genuinely believe what they were doing wasn't spammy. Pinterest may think otherwise.
It must be extremely worrisome to find your Pinterest account suspended for spam. However, there's a belief out there among some bloggers that it's more of an annoyance than anything else. That you'll simply contact Pinterest, and within a few days, your account will be reinstated.
I'm concerned the consequences could be much worse.
People who have built a business quickly using Pinterest marketing may not have long-term experience running an online business.
Some people who give Pinterest marketing advice have only been doing this kind of work for a couple of years. They haven't experienced a seismic shift causing massive upheaval in the way we do business online.
They don't appreciate what can happen when you least expect it.
I've been running an online business long enough to remember the bleak days in 2012 when Google released the Penguin algorithm. It decimated web traffic for any online business owner who had aggressively built links to their site.
Before April 2012, people were using all kinds of aggressive tactics to get links to their sites. The more links they got, the more Google would reward them with lots of traffic.
It's easy to look back now and judge that aggressive pursuit of links as spammy behavior. In hindsight, it was obviously a manipulative trick designed to fool Google. But before Penguin, lots of people were doing it. It reached a point at which you almost seemed foolish if you weren't aggressively pursuing links to your site.
It worked - until it didn't.
On a fateful day in April 2012, Google launched the Penguin algorithm, which decimated traffic to a lot of sites. Many of those sites weren't owned by evil internet spammers. They were owned by honest people trying to build an online business who happened to follow advice that was bad but prevalent at the time.
Some people's businesses never recovered.
Aggressive pinning feels to me a lot like aggressive link building in the days before Google released the Penguin algorithm. Just because people are doing it and appear to be having success doesn't necessarily mean it's good for your business over the long term.
When Google decided aggressive link building was creating bad search results, they changed their algorithm. Entire sites that participated in that behavior were penalized. They were completely downgraded by Google overnight.
What if Pinterest did the same thing and penalized your entire website? Your Pinterest account wouldn't just be shut down for a few days. Instead, Pinterest would give any pins that linked to your site a lot less visibility - permanently. Or until you could figure out a solution.
What if getting out of Pinterest jail wasn't just a matter contacting Pinterest to get your account reinstated? What if somehow you'd need to get your entire URL back in Pinterest's good graces?
First, your traffic would drop drastically, your online business would suffer, and you wouldn't know what happened. Then when you finally did figure out what had happened, you wouldn't know what, if anything, you could do to fix it. And if you did eventually discover a way to fix it, you would likely be in for a mountain of work to get your site back in Pinterest's good graces.
That's what happened when Google launched the Penguin algorithm. I can't think of a reason why Pinterest couldn't penalize sites in a similar, more long-term way.
That's why more aggressive Pinterest marketing strategies make me nervous even if they do appear to work in the moment.
In the same blogging communities that advocate aggressive Pinterest marketing strategies, there's a lot of talk about people experiencing Pinterest bans and traffic losses. Out of frustration, people blame Pinterest. But what if it's the marketing strategies - which bloggers innocently believe are acceptable - that are to blame for the Pinterest account problems they are experiencing?
I earn a commission for purchases made through links on this page.
To learn more, please see my disclosure.
During the pre-Penguin link building craze, people who weren't ambitiously building questionable links seemed foolish. The people who used bold link building strategies seemed to have it all figured out.
Although I had been building my online business for over 5 years at that point, I was still somewhat naive in the sense that I hadn't been tested. I hadn't been through a season of losses and challenges, and I couldn't see the folly in the link builders' advice.
Luckily, I hated link building.
The only reason this site didn't get caught up in the Penguin algorithm release was I didn't do a lot of link building because I hated link building. The whole time, though, I was thinking I should get around to building more links to this site.
Then, in April 2012, I was grateful I didn't.
I try to keep those lessons in mind as I promote my site on Pinterest.
My Pinterest marketing strategy is founded on advice in SiteSell's Pinterest Action Guide, combined with support from business mentors who answer questions on the SiteSell forums, and sometimes run Pinterest challenges. They keep me growing my traffic from Pinterest in ways that I trust will keep my account safe.
Whenever I'm faced with a Pinterest marketing strategy that I'm not 100% sure about, I ask myself whether it's in line with the Pinterest Action Guide. If it's not, I step away.
It's definitely not the most aggressive way to promote your business on Pinterest, but I take a long term view of business. I've been doing this kind of work for a long time, and I want to continue to do it for a long time.
If you do check out SiteSell, keep in mind, it provides a lot more than a Pinterest marketing course and support. It's a full online business building service.
There's instruction on everything from choosing a smart business niche, to getting traffic from Google, to building your brand on social media, and it gives you all the tools you need to do it.
If you just want a Pinterest marketing course, SiteSell is more than you're looking for. If you want comprehensive, online business building tools and strategies, SiteSell is the best resource I know of.